As of November 1, 2023, most juveniles will no longer have to register as a sex offender and be eligible to seal their convictions. Law enforcement will start removing eligible people from the registry soon and mailing letters confirming they have been removed. If you receive a letter indicating that you have been removed from the registry, please contact our office for a free consultation to determine if you are eligible to seal your offense.

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School resource officers, juvenile crime and legal rights

On Behalf of | May 10, 2024 | Juvenile offenses |

The good news about education in Washington and throughout the country is two-fold: graduation rates are up and criminal activity in schools is down. If you’re a parent of school-aged children, you have no doubt worried about their safety when they are at school and away from home. However, since the 1990s, when mass shootings occurred on numerous occasions, such incidents have become rare, and juvenile crime in school settings has declined.

Some people claim that the positive turn of events is due to the presence of school resource officers (SROs). Others say SROs and School Security Officers (SSOs) have not helped students stay safe. In fact, evidence suggests that schools staffing these officers have a much higher student arrest rate than schools that do not employ SSOs or SROs. Parents may wonder why so many student arrests are occurring if juvenile crime is on the decline.

Juvenile crime versus child-like behaviors

Student advocates say that many arrests have occurred regarding child-like behavior and not actual criminal activity in schools across the country. Such advocates have also been outspoken regarding what many claim is a targeting of urban schools, students with low test scores and impoverished communities. While most of the mass shootings in the 1990s took place in schools where the predominant race among the student body was white, there are now more SROs and SSOs in schools where most students are from non-white racial backgrounds.

Why does Washington have so many SSOs and SROs?

As a parent of a Washington school student, you might be concerned that 84 out of 100 of the largest districts employ SSOs and SROs. Those who oppose the presence of police in schools say the money used to pay them would be better off going to hire much-needed teachers, social workers and guidance counselors.

One Washington school district has forked out over $1 million to pay its police officers. Throughout the country, there are approximately 46,000 police officers on patrol in schools. The federal government has subsidized their payrolls to the tune of $1 billion or more.

Juvenile crime is down but arrests are up

Are police criminalizing juvenile behavior in Washington schools? Many parents want to know why so many arrests are occurring if the nation’s juvenile crime rate is in decline. Once the juvenile justice system processes a student, data shows that this is often a first step toward a lifetime of legal problems.

Police have arrested students for issues such as poor grades, unruly conduct or disrupting class with bodily noises. If your child exhibits such behavior in school, you might expect a note home or call from a teacher, but would you expect a police officer to arrest the student? Police cannot arrest a child for typical juvenile behavior, even if it is problematic in a classroom setting. If you’re facing a serious issue regarding juvenile crime, SSOs or SROs, and your child’s rights, it’s best to obtain legal support right away.